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Buy American iron and steel bill upsets Canadian officials

A recent call from Texas lawmakers to Buy American iron and steel has upset some northern neighbors worried about the implications such a measure will have on Texas-Canada trade relations.

May 17, 2017

A recent call from Texas lawmakers to “Buy American” iron and steel has upset some northern neighbors worried about the implications such a measure will have on Texas-Canada trade relations.

In a letter dated May 15, three representatives of the Canadian government wrote that they were “deeply concerned” with a bill that recently passed both chambers that would expand a Buy American provision already in effect for the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Water Development Board to all state agencies.

The bill now heads back to the Senate, where lawmakers will either accept the lower chamber's changes to it or request a conference committee. 

Senate Bill 1289 by state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, would require large state projects — such as buildings, roads and bridges — to purchase iron and steel from an American supplier if the cost doesn’t exceed 20 percent more than the price of cheaper, foreign imports. The bill also says that if American suppliers aren't prepared to supply a project, or there is a compelling state interest, any country's iron and steel can be used.

Canadian officials are asking members of the Texas Senate to move the bill to a conference committee and tack on an amendment that would exempt Canadian steel.

“Canada, Ontario and Alberta are deeply concerned about this bill, which we believe could undermine the strength of our partnerships with Texas and which risks disrupting the efficient, integrated supply chains that span our border across countless sectors,” the letter, signed by three Canadian officials, reads.

“Should the legislation be enacted as it stands, there will likely be pressure by the Canadian business community on all levels of government to respond,” the letter adds. “This could have a harmful impact on Texas businesses who supply the Canadian market.”

The letter notes that Canada is the top export destination for U.S. steel products, representing roughly $9.7 billion in trade last year. It continued: “If the bill can not be sent to conference, we believe it should not be passed until an amendment excluding Canada can be inserted.”

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Buy American iron and steel bill upsets Canadian officials
Buy American iron and steel bill upsets Canadian officials